Fantasy Football Value Appraisal
Fantasy Football Value
Volume and targets are usually at the center of fantasy football success. So it comes as no surprise that the lead or perceived #1 wide receiver for each team is drafted first. However, one element that is too often overlooked is VALUE. Below I detail several opportunities where it makes sense to “zag” instead of “zig” and add value at the wide receiver position during your fantasy football drafts. Keep in mind that the #1 receiver’s fantasy football value can increase for any number of reasons and as much as we’d like it to be the fantasy football landscape is not static nor does it exist in a vacuum. But as of right now here is what my Fantasy Football Value Appraisal of the wide receivers yields.
Allow me to get this off my chest first. There is a fairly distinct dichotomy in the fantasy football universe. You’re either PRO Josh Gordon or anti-Josh Gordon. I fall in the latter category. I recognize Josh Gordon has immense talent. I’m fully aware that he has battled personal demons throughout his career which has ultimately kept him off the field. But Gordon is being treated like he’s coming off of a season-ending injury as opposed to the fact that he only has one, I repeat ONE touchdown catch since 2014. Gordon’s 4th round ADP is the antithesis of the fantasy football value I seek. Furthermore the decision was made that he won’t attend training camp (at least the onset). In other words, he is away from the team that has a host of new weapons, a completely revamped quarterback room and a new play-caller. I understand that Jarvis Landry isn’t as “sexy” a fantasy football name but his consistency cannot be overstated. Currently Landry is being selected just four spots ahead of Josh Gordon in point per reception leagues despite averaging 100 catches a season during his 4-year career; and at least a full round later than Gordon in ½ point and standard leagues. I cannot in good conscience recommend selecting Gordon ahead of Landry in any format in hopes that he captures his 2013 form. For those of you who subscribe to the notion that touchdowns drive fantasy I’d like to submit into evidence that Landry’s and Gordon’s single season best in terms of touchdowns is nine (9). Gordon’s 4th round ADP is entirely too steep for my taste all things considered.
Did you know that in a year Golden Tate had 92/1003/5 he ONLY scored 0.4 more points than Marvin Jones did in PPR leagues in 2017? Keep in mind Tate had 31 more receptions. This isn’t an indictment of Tate and this decision is certainly much closer than the Landry vs. Gordon debate in my opinion. Rather this is an opportunity to get some additional fantasy football value by passing on Tate in the 4th and opting for Jones in the 5th or early 6th round. Jones almost certainly will find the end zone more often than Tate as Jones outpaced Tate in redzone targets 14-to-7 last season a trend that should repeat itself. Watching the Lions last season you could see Matthew Stafford’s confidence in Jones grow and the corresponding chemistry blossom. Marvin Jones has never had more than 65 receptions in a season but I’m anticipating fewer short throw/extended handoffs to Tate as Detroit commits to establishing the line of scrimmage and running the football more which sets up play-action, and allows for longer developing patterns pushing Jones into the 75 receptions range in 2018. Given his stable floor, the ability to do MORE with less, and upside I’m waiting for Jones instead of opting for Tate in fantasy football drafts this season.
I discussed what I call Adverse Recency Bias last month and Emmanuel Sanders was subject to that topic as I struggle to understand how Julian Edelman is going a full round ahead of Sanders despite being subject to a 4-game suspension to begin the season. Incidentally taking a closer look at the Broncos passing game it has become rather apparent that Sanders offers substantial fantasy football value as a 7th round draft pick; particularly when running mate Demaryius Thomas (30) is being drafted a full three rounds earlier. Sanders suffered through poor quarterback play and a high ankle sprain last season but by no means is an injury-prone player. In fact, the 30-year-old Sanders started in 47 of 48 games for Denver during the 2014-2016 seasons. Neither Sanders nor Thomas will approach the 2014 outburst they enjoyed with Petyon Manning at the controls but it is fairly safe to assume that increased competency at the quarterback position with Case Keenum should serve all Denver Broncos pass catchers well. Pivoting to Sanders also serves as a shrewd hedge in the event Keenum doesn’t live up to the billing and the Broncos receivers under-perform. As for Sanders and Thomas head-to-head, over the past two seasons Thomas has a per game average of 13.65 points in PPR leagues. Meanwhile, Sanders during that same time frame averaged 11.67 ppg. However, it’s important to note that Thomas’ 284 targets (Sanders 229 targets) over the last two seasons are inflated in part because of the four games and parts of others Sanders missed in 2017. Finally, the eyeball test suggests that Thomas has become more and more of a possession receiver, move the chains type player. Sanders is the superior route-runner and field-stretcher. Given his 7th round ADP I’ll take a slightly lower weekly floor in the form of Sanders to garner his upside and draft value particularly with little variance between their respective touchdown totals in recent years.
I think the fantasy footballers that have noticed DeVante Parker’s 9th round ADP are convinced that they are getting great fantasy football value. I’d beg to differ. Could you catch lightning in a bottle? Possibly, but those odds are remote for reasons in and out of Parker’s control. Granted there are 161 vacated targets (Jarvis Landy) to distribute but my money is on newly acquired Danny Amendola and second round draft pick Mike Gesicki siphoning a healthy share of those targets in addition to incumbent starter Kenny Stills. Parker is entering a make or break year in Miami and reports suggest he has struggled throughout training camp. Personally, I think a change of scenery is what Parker needs to realize some of the potential he displayed during his days at the University of Louisville. Conversely, Kenny Stills has averaged nearly eight touchdowns per year since becoming a full-time starter for the Dolphins in 2016; meanwhile Parker has a grand total of eight touchdowns in three years as a pro. The now retired Jay Cutler was “supposed” to afford Parker more chances of the 50/50 variety considering his gun-slinging tendencies but that didn’t materialize. Although Stills enjoyed most of his success with Matt Moore under-center and Ryan Tannehill doesn’t exactly invoke confidence, he is an upgrade to the aforementioned Cutler so I am anticipating slightly improved quarterback play in South Florida this season. Given his track record and dirt cheap fantasy football value as an 11/12th round pick I will gladly pass on Parker and opt for the boom or bust nature of Stills as perhaps a 4th or 5th receiver.
I know I will draw plenty of ire for this one but I stand by it. Although it’s customary for rookie wideouts to struggle and the 2014 rookie receiver class was an anomaly there have been isolated occasions in which a rookie receiver bursts onto the fantasy football scene (I.e. Michael Thomas). I think Anthony Miller could be an exception to the rule. I don’t have the gumption my colleague CPGM Drew has in ranking Miller ahead of Robinson in his 2018 redraft rankings but I don’t think he’s too far off base. Robinson was phenomenal during his 2015 campaign where he logged 80/1400/14 on 151 targets. Still, those numbers were buoyed by game scripts favoring the pass catcher and an inordinate amount of targets and touchdowns inside the 10 yard line (18 targets; 10 TDs both led the NFL in 2015). Robinson came crashing back down to earth in 2016 as he had a 73/883/6 line on the same number of targets. Some of that regression can be attributed to poor quarterback play but Robinson also struggled to create consistent separation and come down with the 50/50 balls that he made routine in 2015. Robinson missed the majority of the 2017 season with a knee injury but his talent should result in a 2018 stat line somewhere between his 2015 and 2016 numbers. As for Miller I’m with CPGM Drew and think he is a better receiver overall. Not by a landslide but there’s a certain level of dawg in Miller that doesn’t show up in a box score or in athletic testing that has me excited about his prospects in his rookie season. From a route running perspective, his physicality and his ability to create after the catch Miller makes plays at every level of the field. As for how each player will be deployed I anticipate Robinson will line up outside the numbers on a consistent basis and draw the opposition’s best defender. Robinson will serve as the primary field stretcher and make his share of plays and I’ll concede he has a higher TD upside. Miller on the other hand will work out of the slot at a healthy frequency where he will out-muscle defensive backs, out quick linebackers, and soak up targets from young Mitchell Trubisky thus reeling in more receptions. Speaking of Trubisky I’m not convinced he’s ready for primetime and I firmly believe that his noteworthy accuracy plays best short to intermediate where Miller will do most of his damage. Additionally, in my film study Trubisky’s accuracy wanes the longer he holds the football. No one on the Bears roster will get open more quickly than Anthony Miller. I’m not suggesting you draft Miller before Robinson but I think he will push Robinson for the lead among Chicago pass catchers in terms of fantasy points from a PPR perspective; and given that there are seven rounds that separate those two players it may behoove you to consider the fantasy football value you can get in adding another running back in lieu of Robinson and grabbing Anthony Miller in the latter rounds.
Lo and behold another rookie makes the list. Funchess was solid 63/840/8 in his first season as a full-time starter in 2017 essentially doubling his output the two previous seasons. But with the return of a healthy Greg Olsen and the additions of 1st round pick D.J. Moore, and free agent acquisition Torrey Smith I’m going to wait the two rounds or so to land the aforementioned Moore instead. Chances are Funchess and Moore will end up with similar numbers this season but it’s what Moore can due after the catch that has me most intrigued. Despite being a smaller receiver Moore’s athleticism generates a larger catch radius than his frame might suggest tempering my concern regarding Cam Newton‘s accuracy and/or ball placement. The Panthers have a new play caller in Norv Turner so a lot remains to be seen on how the various weapons on the Panthers offense will be deployed but again I’m opting for the superior talent in this case given the additional fantasy football value that decision can yield.
ADP Values via Fantasy Football Calculator.